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"Dealing with Alcoholic, Can't Stop Rescuing "
by Toby Rice Drews
by Toby Rice Drews
Why is it so wrenchingly difficult for so many of us to end our rescuing of alcoholics from the consequences of their alcoholism?
For most of us, we are terrified of losing them...losing their love, even if they stay with us.
Scared of their anger... we've seen it. We know they can hold onto it. We know they use it to divert us. And it usually works.
It especially works when we are children of violent alcoholics. It's post-traumatic stress syndrome, all over again and again and again.
For others of us, the money issue is no small thing, when he earns most of the income, and there are small children at home...or if we're older, and not as able to get around, to earn a decent income on our own.
For many of us, just saying 'no' is like tearing our guts out. There's almost no doubt that THAT response is most likely about our own childhoods, replaying itself out, over and over.
Whatever the reason, telling us to "just stop enabling him/her" is useless. And drives us NOT to stop the rescuing, but drives us out of counseling, drives us into paralyzed shame.
And sends our families down the tubes, with even further isolation than ever.
a. First, please don't call us 'enablers'...we are rescuers.."rescuers" is a non-shaming term, and it does not drive us out of treatment...and it leads to the same goal...& itMUCH more effectively help us stop the over-caretaking. (Of course, when counselors become angry that "they can't call us enablers", it is THEIR issue. Most likely,when a counselor tries to hang on to that old idea, she/he is an adult child of an alcoholic, who does not want to let go of punishing the non-addicted parent for staying in a marriage with the alcoholic).
b. When we are gut-wrenchingly unable to stop the rescuing because we cannot say 'no' even when we know it might very well help save his/her life, it is often so very helpful to seek help for our childhood issues, that occured way before we even met the alcoholic in our lives.
c. But very important------WE family members, as part and parcel of OUR recovery, get to learn that OUR path, our children's paths, are every bit as important as the recovery of the alcoholic.
No---- more important.
Six persons lives 'as' important as the one?
So------- when and IF we get to the point where we can more comfortably end the rescuing, we will do it. But not to OUR detriment. When we face more to lose (in any given situation) than the alcoholic does, if we stop rescuing in any particular case, we have the right to do what is best for US. For in the long run, what's good for the family, IS good for the alcoholic.
(Another cartoon from the Al-Anon Forum magazine, years ago---- a family was taking a Sunday drive in the country. The drinking alcoholic father was driving. His wife sat next to him in the car. The 2 kids were in the back seat. Dad crashed into a tree. All became unconscious. The ambulance came onto the scene. The medics rushed to the car, crying, "How is he?!") Sounds a lot like how the family is treated by many so-called experts in alcoholism, these days............ love to all in recovery, Toby
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